On a recent hike of self discovery and trying to find my zen, I was trekking through the private trails near my home. I don’t venture through these trails too often, much less on a hot sunny day. On the way up the trails is when I found a lesson.
Going down the trail is easy. You get some momentum going down and you are always looking forward, enjoying the scenery, realizing you have a very tough trek back but more focused on the ease of your journey and enjoying your surroundings. You get to your destination fairly easily and reap the benefits of a beautiful view, water sounds lulling you back into the recesses of your mind, and birds completing your experience taking you to another level of peace. It is quiet. You sit, start to pray and try to open your mind to hear or feel a solution to what you are going through. You feel the sun, you hear the silence and I don’t get any epiphanies. Oh well, got some exercise, so at least I don’t have to feel guilty about that today! Now the realization of the path to the top starts to set in.
Now don’t get me wrong, this is not Kilimanjaro or anything, but when you are 40 pounds overweight, coming up to your 50th birthday and no athlete, well, it can feel like quite a “mountain” to climb. I start off at a decent pace as my dog pulls ahead. As the incline increases, so does my heart rate, breathing and my perspective. The top looks waaaay far away!
I decide to stop before I get too winded, too tired and too hot. I pick a landmark to shoot for and start to focus on the small goal. When I get to my interval point, I take a look back. Wow, look at where I was! I look back and feel proud that I reached my small goal. Now, to look forward. Where will my next goal be. Take a moment to catch my breath and slow my pounding heart – rejuvenate physically. Upward I go.
It was on my next pit stop that I realized that climbing up and down this trail had metaphors for life that just couldn’t be ignored.I don’t know what gave me perspective that day, but I found it. My prayers had not been answered in the easy time or the quiet time, but in the tough time.
Going down the trail was like doing something that was easy or trend setting or even peer pressure related. Down I went, momentum taking me down and the pleasurable sites blurring any idea of how hard it would be to make my way out. It was easy, satisfying and required very little work.
Getting to the bottom was also easy. I had reached my goal and was looking for my reward – my answers to life questions. I didn’t even enjoy the sun and silence! Instead I was looking too far and only at my problems ahead instead of enjoying the moment.
When I stopped, I realized that the best path in life is the one that requires work, dedication, physical health, goal setting, gratitude, and letting the past go and focus on the goals in front of you. It means you take a look at where you’ve been and appreciate your accomplishments.
How many times do you look back and criticize your choices and feel like you haven’t accomplished anything. You think the road ahead is way too hard and you just can’t make it. Do you push yourself to carry on without giving yourself time to reconnect spiritually and physically recover? You forge ahead to reach your goal no matter what the cost. I know I have.
Focusing on your mistakes and how you got there isn’t going to get you to your next interval on the life trail. Beating yourself up about your mistakes isn’t going to motivate you to take on the next challenges on your life trail, its only going to make you afraid to move and you won’t reach the top. Not giving yourself time to recover from the hard road is being too hard on yourself. Love yourself enough to be kind to yourself and let yourself recover so that you can be stronger to continue. It doesn’t matter that you took a stop – it doesn’t make you a weak person, it makes you loving, intelligent and human. You will make it to the top and it’s not about how fast you get there, it will still happen and life will continue to happen. You can get to the top ragged, torn and alone or you can get to the top healthy, whole and supported. Either way you will get there.